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Chapter 8 - Procreating on Patmos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2021

Aaron Matz
Affiliation:
Scripps College, California
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Summary

Chapter 8, “Procreating on Patmos,” focusing on the tensions and contradictions of the novel today, marks the culmination of this study of the novel’s ambivalence toward procreation. The title comes from Emil Cioran, who warned against having children during end times: “one does not procreate on Patmos.” Our Patmos today is the entire planet menaced by global warming. In contemporary fiction it is the climate emergency that is most likely to induce a hostility toward the prospect of having children. This chapter looks at a wide range of current writers consumed by the moral dilemma of procreation – Zadie Smith, Lydia Davis, Sheila Heti, Jonathan Franzen, Ben Lerner, Nell Zink, Ian McEwan – while concentrating on this overriding moral-ecological theme, and its importance in the parallel work of environmental philosophers. The contemporary novel suggests that we might focus less on dystopian imaginings of the future cataclysm, and more on the conditions of present-day life, in which we must reach a decision about the role we should play in the peopling of that future world.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Procreating on Patmos
  • Aaron Matz, Scripps College, California
  • Book: The Novel and the Problem of New Life
  • Online publication: 24 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108989718.009
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  • Procreating on Patmos
  • Aaron Matz, Scripps College, California
  • Book: The Novel and the Problem of New Life
  • Online publication: 24 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108989718.009
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Procreating on Patmos
  • Aaron Matz, Scripps College, California
  • Book: The Novel and the Problem of New Life
  • Online publication: 24 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108989718.009
Available formats
×